Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Maximizing the Editing Process (The Author's Responsibility)

With each manuscript I edit for my clients, I include three rounds of line editing and a final proofread. Also, I include a style sheet which goes into detail on more repetitive issues that are affecting the overall flow and structure of the manuscript. Additionally, I insert suggestive comments throughout the manuscript that would enhance the tone of the author’s voice. I take the responsibility of producing a final manuscript free of careless typos, grammar gaffes, and formatting flaws extremely serious. However, when the author is more in a hurry to go to print than they’re concerned about perfecting their work-in-progress, then all of my work as an editor is in vain.

That’s right, folks. The author has a poignant responsibility during the editing process. If an author is hastily moving toward the printing presses, but isn't focused on reviewing, addressing, and/or correcting the quirks plainly spelled out by the editor, the end result of a sloppily produced book cannot be charged to the editor alone. One thing I love about my clientele is that they've learned to take the editing process just as serious as I do. There’s usually next to no pressure placed upon me to rush through a manuscript, and I encourage them to take their time to perform an in-depth review of my revisions and suggestions. There should be a decent window of space between the time the editor sends the manuscript back to the author and the author returns it back to the editor.

As an author, you must ask yourself, “Have I taken time to address all of the feedback and suggestions my editor has given me?” If not, it’s time to pump your brakes, go back to review your manuscript, and be ready to address any issues your editor has brought to the table, no matter how insignificant you may think they may be. A healthy dialogue between manuscript passes is also crucial. If there’s something you don’t understand, you have every right to approach your editor for clarification. Trust me, your editor will love you for it. As an editor, one of the most frustrating things is to see repetitive errors go unaddressed. It’s a good thing to remember that no one cares how fast you produce a manuscript that is full of mistakes that could've been prevented had the author taken the proper time to thoroughly review the manuscript between editing phases. When an author fully embraces the editing process, they’re not only increasing the likeliness of a successful finished product, but they’re simultaneously becoming subject experts on what it takes to produce a high-quality manuscript.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So You Think You Can Dance Write a Book?

Writing a book seems to be the ‘in’ thing to do as of late.  With an array of people bringing diverse experiences and expertise to the table, it seems only fitting that the exchange of knowledge can and should be done through a self-help book.  Right? Wrong!  Writing a book immediately coins an author with the title of subject expert, but what happens when a book is full of grammatical cloudiness that circumvents readers from grasping the wealth of knowledge?  Perhaps the answer is in the writer; however, it will take a great deal of concise and clear idea sharing for readers to catch hold of the vision.  While it is indeed a great gesture to want to write a book, without the proper research, the book has the potential to brand the writer as a total amateur—not only in writing, but also in their supposed expertise.  Knowledge is power, but the ability to communicate such ideas is a gift that not everyone possesses.  Self-publishing has given us the leisure and convenience of publishing simply and quickly.  This is a blessing veiled in a degree of uh-oh…  The fact is, people who have no exposure to the world of publishing often fail to negate that certain steps in the writing process are unavoidable.  A quick spelling and grammar check along with letting a family friend proofread your work isn’t going to weed out the quirks that make some reading clear as muddy water. That’s right folks; some errors will take a keen eye for detail, and the task of catching even the smallest gaffes, which are often overlooked, takes the eye of an experienced editor. A solid book should be copyedited then proofread.  And depending on the level of writer you are, your book may need substantive line-editing. This means that your book is extensively evaluated on the sentence level.  Does this assail the potential or intelligence of the writer?  Not at all.  It’s just like construction. Without proper planning, a blueprint, subcontractors, designers, plumbers, and electrical experts, a sound home could and would not be built correctly.  The same goes for writing; to some things, there are simply no short cuts.  So, when approaching the prospect of writing a book, do it wisely.  The blessing in the publishing industry is, there are arrays of resources out there to bring all the information you need right to your fingertips.  Happy writing, folks!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Write Right Part Four: High-Priority Hyphenating

The hyphen is a powerful tool that holds the capability to alter a sentence. Likewise, choosing to exclude a hyphen can have the same profound effect on a sentence. Just like most grammar rules, there are a ton of exceptions, exclusions, and special scenarios; however, I intend to give you an operational understanding of when (and when not) to use the hyphen. For clarity’s sake, it’s important to be able to pinpoint the way in which a hyphen changes the overall meaning of the message a writer is trying to convey. Consider the following example.

Bradley cheerfully smiled and returned to the bank teller’s desk to resign his paycheck.

Even though Bradley is returning to the bank teller’s desk in a seemingly great mood, I’m sure that smile is going to turn upside down when he realizes that he just forfeited his check to the bank teller. You see, without a hyphen it’s impossible to know whether Bradley intended to re-sign his check or resign (submit or give up) his check to the teller. If Bradley is going to maintain that smile, he would most likely be re-signing the check.

Carrie sweated profusely after the high-intensity workout.

The example above denotes the more common usage of hyphenating which occurs when using two adjectives as one idea before a noun. It is extremely important that the two adjectives are working together to illustrate the same concept. The workout was both high and intense. If the high-intensity had been positioned somewhere different in the sentence, perhaps after the noun workout, a hyphen would usually not be used.

There are other cases where a hyphen would almost always be used. Fractions and numbers used as words such as: three-fifths, two-thirds, etc. are always hyphenated. Common compound words and phrases containing words such as: half, part, ex, self, and/or all, usually require a hyphen. Of course there are always special exceptions and in those special cases Rasilliant Enterprises is here with a readily available answer for you. Remember, don’t let your writing be mangled by simple mistakes that can be easily avoided.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Write Right Part Three: Dangerous Dangling Participles

It’s a simple fact: no one likes to be left hanging; this includes the subject, nouns, adjectives, etc. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of replacing the subject altogether by using a dangling participle. By doing this, we often give inordinate action to objects that prove to be very awkward. Consider the following sentence.

Driving down the highway, the buildings jumped out at us.

If you were driving down the highway and buildings were jumping out at you, in addition to a messy pile-up, it’s highly likely that you would not survive to write a sentence about it, LOL. This is called a dangling participle, because the participle is left standing alone without a clear antecedent. defines an antecedent as “a word, phrase, or clause, usually a substantive, that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later, or occasionally earlier, in the same or in another, usually subsequent, sentence.” A more appropriate way to phrase the previous example would be as follows:

As we drove down the highway, the buildings appeared to be jumping out at us.

Dangling participles can lead to huge misunderstandings in your writing. It also distracts from the central idea and shifts the focus to vague, insignificant concepts. The last thing you want to do is have the focus shifted away from the message you are trying to convey. Personally, I think that dangling participles become a more pressing problem when people use more compound sentences. Let’s look at another example.

Eating the pizza, the jalapeƱos triggered a fire in my mouth.

Notice in this sentence, the dangling participle modifies the wrong noun. It is unsafe to assume that your readers will be able to bridge your implication with the subject. The optimal thing to do would be to latch the participle onto something so the sentence will make sense. Remember, the goal is to write as clear as possible–avoiding ambiguity at all costs. A more acceptable version of this would read as follows:

The jalapeƱos seemed to trigger a fire in my mouth as I ate the pizza.

Stay tuned as we follow up with another writing tip guaranteed to take your writing to the next level. Remember, our goal is not only to provide you with writing services, but we seek to help as many as possible become great writers. Writing doesn’t have to be viewed as some ominous task that only an elite few are able to do successfully. There is a writer inside of you dying to get out, and we are committed to helping you discover and rescue that writer!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Write Right Part Two: Punctuating with Purpose

If you were to ask any successful writer what their style was, it's probable, they’d be unable to verbalize the exact elements of their style. Effective writing style resembles fashion in the respect that there are many ways to dress nice, but a flawed garment will immediately ruin an entire outfit. This brings us to another writing error we frequently see: the lack or misuse of punctuation. If and when used correctly, punctuation can add a great degree of style to writing, because a variance of punctuation usage will lead to a variation of sentence structure and length. Just as traffic lights and signs are needed to create practical paths of navigation while driving, punctuation is almost required to direct readers through your writing with the least amount of clutter, obstruction, and/or boredom. Let’s pretend for a moment, that a school-teacher was making preparation to submit a statement of purpose to enroll in law school. How do you think his letter of intent would be received if it read as followed?
My name is Bradley Hall. I teach 4th grade. I live in Wilmington, Delaware. I have taught for seven years. I now desire to go to law school. I hope to enroll in the Blue Bonnet University. I have no money for tuition. I offer many great things. I am creative. I am passionate. I am transparent. I am willing to work hard.
Have you died of boredom yet, or are you like any review board, ready to reject this letter of intent with no questions asked? There are no grammatical mistakes here, no spelling errors, no botched homophones; however, there is no life or style in the text. There is nothing that would suggest that Bradley is passionate about this endeavor. Now, let’s take the same sentences and add life to them by simply adding punctuation.
My name is Bradley Hall—a fourth-grade teacher from Wilmington, Delaware. I have taught for seven years, but now I desire to go to law school. I hope to enroll in the Blue Bonnet University; however, I have no money for tuition. I offer many great things such as: creativity, passion, transparency, and a willingness to work hard.
Let’s examine the punctuation added to our simple paragraph to make it more stylistic.
  1. Em Dash: It allows for a break in tone, or in thought.
  2. Comma: In the paragraph above it was used to separate a clause and it was used to list.
  3. Semicolon: It is used to separate two independent clauses. Be careful though, both clauses must be able to stand alone as separate sentences if the semicolon were absent.
  4. Colon: In this case, it was used before a list of ideas or concepts.
In conclusion, there is only one way to master the effective usage of punctuation: PRACTICE. Don’t be afraid to try out various sentence structures in order to improve your writing style. Remember, there IS a writer within you. Again, writing is no ominous task that is set aside for some elite group of people. We are committed to help establish and discover as many writers as possible. If there any questions surrounding the use of punctuation please leave a comment. Also, check back in a few days for Part Three of the Write Right series…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Write Right Part One: Homophonic Homicide

After much prodding from customers, family, and friends, I am running a six-entry blog series dedicated to helping others overhaul bad writing practices. Again, it is our desire to see all professionals and aspiring professionals be transformed into functional writers. Recently, I was asked to pinpoint the most annoying mistake I see while proofing documents for others. Initially, I wanted to focus on the mistakes that I find my pen making the most, but that wouldn’t be in the best interest of my audience. If I could only verbalize how atomic the war against words can get, I could properly illustrate the turmoil that we go through to ensure documents are error-free, polished, and as concise as possible. Having shared that, the first offender of bad writing we will attack is the incorrect usage of homophones.

It has been said, that it takes twenty-one days to break a habit. If that is true, are you willing to do what it takes to eliminate the habit of misusing homophones? First, let us define a homophone. A homophone describes a word that sounds similar to another, but possesses a totally different meaning. Here are a few examples of homophonic errors.

1. Lucy chose the club witch would be the closest to there house.

2. Bobby plans to take his favorite toy plain on the airplane with hem.

3. Before they set out to see, they each had a peace of pie.

I will now give three-fourths of you a moment to ask yourselves, “Is this guy crazy or what;” but you would be surprised how many documents come across my desk with these exact types of preventable errors. I always express to my clients how errors immediately begin to cancel out the author’s credibility. Imagine if you went to have a final will and testament prepared by a lawyer; how offended would you be if the title plastered across the top of the page was “WHEEL AND TESTAMENT”? You would most likely think that this lawyer is not only incompetent, but it would probably prod you to read the entire document with a raised eyebrow and fine toothed comb. I ask you to reference the 15 common homophones below that I typically encounter while editing. I beg you to double-check this list to make sure that these homophones are not murdering your writing style. Perhaps it is necessary that you create a cheat sheet to identify homophones that you accidentally interchange. Remember, it takes consistency and dedication to break bad habits.

1. Affect/Effect
2. Break/Brake
3. Fair/Fare
4. Hair/Heir
5. Have/Half
6. Here/Hear
7. Holy/Wholly
8. Hour/Our
9. It’s/Its
10. Made/Maid
11. Their/There
12. Then/Than
13. Too/To/Two
14. Weather/Whether
15. Your/You're

Monday, October 4, 2010

Proofreading vs. Copy-editing

Often, we get requests to proofread letters, brochures, newsletters, etc. Sadly, most professionals and businesses who proposition us for editorial services are aware of what copy-editing actually is. Copy-editing speaks to the more structural aspect of a document. Proofreading handles spelling errors, simple grammar gaffs, and mistakes that the mind may let pass onto a page. Copy-editing deals more with formatting errors, inconsistencies in typesetting, and other errors that would potentially lead to marginal printing and publication issues. In addition, a copy-editor will also fix passages that lack clarity and/or has confusing dialogue or factual errors. A proofreader can make a document error-free; however, a copy-editor can perfect your document.

While we don't expect our customers to be avid copy-editors, we ensure that we at least introduce our customers to the copy-editing process. Anyone who creates documents, spreadsheets, pamphlets, newsletters, etc, should be able to differentiate between copy-editing and proofreading. Besides being able to pinpoint errors in the text, correct margins, rational fonts, page numbering must be adhered to. Before committing to an editing project, Rasilliant Enterprises offers our customers a one-time complimentary 500-word sample edit. By doing this, customers are able to get a brief taste of our editing process; moreover, this sample gives our customers a chance to look at their document through the veil of a more detailed analysis. So, if you are unsure as to whether your work needs proofread or copy-edited, contact us immediately! We are more than willing to work with you until you possess a functional understanding of both.